Connie Clement is the scientific director of the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), one of six Canadian public health knowledge centres. The national collaborating centres for public health are funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada to strengthen public health practices, policies and programs throughout Canada by promoting and improving the use of scientific research and other knowledge.
The NCCDH supports public health practitioners and organizations to address social determinants of health and advance health equity. Recent publications to which Connie has contributed can be found in the NCCDH resource library, among them a series of Let’s Talk easy-to-read, short concept papers about health equity, moving upstream and public health roles for improving health equity.
The daughter of a school nurse and an environmentalist (before the term was coined), Connie came early to her public health and upstream career as a teenaged activist involved in anti-racist, environmental and sexual health campaigns and volunteering at an inner city children’s clinic. Her background combines positions in public health organizations, charitable sector work and community engagement.
"We need to be paying attention to structural change. Those are the factors that really make a difference to creating inequities that affect health."
As executive director of Health Nexus (Nexus Santé), a bilingual Ontario-based charity that builds health promotion capacity, Connie was part of the short-lived Canadian Partnership for Social Equity and the earlier Health Determinants Partnership, and contributed to publications such as Count Me In: Tools for Social Inclusion and Primer to Action: Determinants of Health. She was first executive director for Social Venture Partners Toronto, a group of venture philanthropists who provide funding and management advice to selected charitable organizations doing anti-poverty work.
At Toronto Public as director of policy and planning following amalgamation of six health units, Connie strove to move policies and interventions upstream. Connie oversaw Toronto’s Food Policy Council, as well as HIV/AIDS prevention and drug prevention grants to community organizations. She chaired Toronto’s Youth Prostitution Roundtable; co-chaired an intersectoral committee to ban pesticide use in Toronto; and oversaw Toronto’s Public Health Research & Development program (originally known by its more explanatory name of Teaching Health Units).
"It's really exciting to think about an agenda for Canadians, by Canadians, with Canadians — as opposed to a federal agenda."
Connie initially came to upstream work as a young feminist. She was a co-founder of Healthsharing magazine and Women Healthsharing, a precursor of the Canadian Women’s Health Network and the Centres for Excellence in Women’s Health -- now sadly all defunct.
In addition to being on the advisory board of Upstream, Connie is a long-term member of the Canadian Council on Social Determinants of Health, an intersectoral advisory body to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Connie is a member of the board of directors of the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre.